After Saturday’s last-gasp winner, Reading travelled to West London in renewed hope. Putting it into context, no manager since Steve Coppell has got more than three points out of their first two games, so any return from the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium would have made a record.
Bowen rang the changes after the win against Preston North End, with Andy Rinomhota, Omar Richards and Sam Baldock coming into the team for Pele, Jordan Obita and Yakou Meite.
Reading started off like a train against a fairly lethargic Fake Hoops side, with Ovie Ejaria in menacing form, interchanging well with John Swift and a delightful one-two with George Puscas freed Sam Baldock who hit the ball with venom, only to see Liam Kelly in the QPR goal push it to safety.
To be fair Reading looked in complete control, with Ejaria pulling the strings in midfield ably assisted by Swift, who looked to be back to his best. The dominance continued with Reading pressing QPR at every opportunity and genuinely asking difficult questions of the QPR defence.
I never saw the goal coming for QPR at this point as I don’t think that the Rangers attack had a sniff, with the Three Ms (Miazga, Morrison, Moore) marshalling the defence superbly and Andy Yiadom and Omar Richards trying to break every time they got the ball.
QPR potentially could have had a man advantage a couple of times, as Matt Miazga appeared to throw an arm out to block Angel Rangel in the box, and seemed to connect with him, followed up by a shot which hit Andy Yiadom’s outstretched arm. If I am being honest I would have been furious if that had not been given to us in a game.
As with all good things they come to an end and the period of dominance ended with George Puscas getting over confident in the right back position and getting robbed of the ball. A quick pass through to the ever-elusive Nahki Wells (when doesn’t he score against us?) and he buried the ball into the bottom right corner.
Could Rafael have done better? Potentially, it was on his near post and it looked like he nearly got a hand on It, but it was a decent strike to I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
When you concede a goal, the best time to score is 90 seconds later and a previously distraught Puscas was sent chasing an absolute peach of a ball from Ejaria – he really couldn’t have hit it any better, and the Romanian outpaced the covering QPR defence to put the perfect end to a perfect pass and slide the ball onto the on-rushing Liam Kelly in the QPR goal.
Halftime brought rapturous applause from the Reading travelling support who had attended the game in decent numbers
Half time 1-1
The second half started off with QPR coming out to a sustained period of control, which seemed to put them on top. At this point the referee, who wasn’t too bad in the first half, in the second seemed to turn into a whistle-blowing official intent on stopping the game flowing. He booked unfortunate Andy Rinomhota for breaking up a QPR counter attack – to be fair I didn’t see much in it.
On 58 minutes another QPR long ball saw the ball drop kindly for Jordan Hugill who managed to get on the end of a Wells flick and a wicked deflection took the ball past the unfortunate Rafael.
Reading didn’t seem phased by the knockback again and many teams from previous years would have simply folded. However, this team seems to have wised up and they continued to pass the ball around – NOT at the back but instead putting pressure onto QPR. This led to numerous chances with Miazga dinking a ball over the top which Liam Kelly beat Puscas to and Swift having a dangerous free kick saved by Liam Kelly.
One of Reading’s forgotten men appeared on 66 with Garath McCleary not only being named in a matchday squad but also getting on the pitch, almost immediately making an impact with a low cross into the box. The game seemed to be drifting away from Reading right until the 76th minute when Swift delivered an absolutely lovely ball into the box which was squared by Andy Yiadom for Sam Baldock who had the simplest of tap-ins to score the leveller – cue the away end going delirious.
The referee continued to annoy both sets of fans with some strange decisions, and Reading looked the likeliest to score going into the dying stages of the game. Baldock nearly got his second with a venomous shot which sailed over the bar after some decent interpassing.
Miazga got involved again – there is something to be said for his nasty side when he picked up a yellow on the 90th minute getting into a tussle with Jordan Hugill.
Mark Bowen seemed to settle for a point when the mightily impressive Ovie Ejaria was subbed for Pele, whose first impact was to clear man and ball.
This was a really, really good performance and one that probably deserved the three points but fair play to the fakes, they battled well too. There were some really good performances with Ejaria head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch, and Yiadom, Swift and Baldock particularly impressive.
What has interested me is the two tactical switches that Bowen seems to have done with Swift and Ejaira never more than 10 yards away from each other and the distinct rush in the Reading team to get the ball up the pitch quickly. The most important thing though is confidence and belief that is running through this team and long may it continue!
We move onto Nottingham Forest on Saturday, and could we get a point there as well? Why not!